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REVIEW: Dynaco Dynaco ST-70 KIT Amplifier (Tube)

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Model: Dynaco ST-70 KIT
Category: Amplifier (Tube)
Suggested Retail Price: $695
Description: An upgraded Dynaco ST-70 in KIT form
Manufacturer URL: Dynaco
Model Picture: View

Review by kimjohns on March 18, 2009 at 17:55:07
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I just turned 60 and have decided to simplify my life, smell the roses so to speak, and to do things that help relieve the stress and worries of our dismal national and global situation. I got rid of my home theater system (there is no hope for Hollywood) and decided to revisit simple stereo high fidelity and all of the pleasures that it used to give me. I never spent huge amounts of money on expensive stereo equipment, preferring to buy and build components that gave a lot of bang for the buck from the likes of Dynaco, AR, KLH, Grado and Hafler while hacking and tweaking all along the way. For me this was the true spirit of stereo, simple and relatively inexpensive (a lot of it built and serviced by myself). With that came much personal delight and satisfaction. This time around I thought I might try a valve amplifier, preferably a kit. Searching around on the net, I found a few kits. Most were priced more than I wanted to spend and fully assembled tube amps were mostly out of the question. One thing I noticed was that a huge part of the cost of this stuff is in the cosmetics and most of it is, in my opinion, just plain ugly. Not interested. Anyhow, upon further looking I hit upon Bob Latino's website and his modernized Dynaco ST-70. Everything about this rig looked good but I was a little apprehensive about spending a big chunk of change on an amp design that was almost 50 years old. More importantly there were just not a lot of reviews on Mr. Latino’s reissue of this amp. The ones that I did read were, however, very favorable. I bought one anyhow. Sometimes my least researched purchases turn into winners and I was hoping this would be one of them. The kit was a breeze and a delight to assemble, being pat Dynaco. Once assembled and work checked twice (remember I just turned 60), I set the output tube bias voltages, which took about 5 minutes. I then hooked up a pair of speakers, an old Harmon Kardon HD 8600ll CD player that has a volume control on the output (so I did not need a preamp). At this point there was dead silence, absolute quiet. I was worried. I gathered up my wife for the moment and then hit the play button. I immediately turned to my wife and said "holy crap, are you hearing this?” She said "yes"! To make a long story a little longer, this is one of the best stereo moves that my wife and I have ever made. I have no regrets whatsoever. It is exactly what I wanted in a valve amplifier. Since then (it was a Christmas present), I have scratch-built a preamplifier with phono inputs, designed and built a pair of two-way vented speakers tailored to this amp, bought a turntable, got out my boxes of records and have elevated my general quality of life significantly. The spirit of DIY lives again.

Pros: I am incredibly happy with the ST-70. Bob Latino is a nice guy to do business with.

Cons: It is 2009 instead of 1960.

Kim L. Johnson

Product Weakness: None
Product Strengths: Lots of bang for the buck and you get to build it yourself

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: ST-70
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Scratch-built using ESP boards
Sources (CDP/Turntable): HK CD player, Rega P3
Speakers: Custom designed and built
Cables/Interconnects: inexpensive balanced
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Everything except rap
Room Size (LxWxH): 22 x 26 x 9
Room Comments/Treatments: Typical livingroom
Time Period/Length of Audition: 3 months
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Triplite surge
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner
Your System (if other than home audition): none

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